Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein


Beloved children’s book author and counter-cultural icon Shel Silverstein passed away at his Key West, Florida home on May 10th of a heart attack. Perhaps best known as the author of several very fine children’s books that collectively sold in excess of 10 million, the Silverstein-penned and illustrated books Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic are truly modern-day classics. His earlier book, The Giving Tree , has the distinction of having been used as a title and point-of-reference for a Los Lobos song.

Silverstein was also a well-known cartoonist, playwright, and a prolific songwriter who penned hundreds of often very successful, mostly country-flavored songs for a long list of artists. He was considered one of the best and most sought after songwriters in early-Seventies Nashville. Among his more well-known songs were “A Boy Named Sue” for Johnny Cash, and “Hey Loretta” for Loretta Lynn. Loretta Lynn objected to his using her name in the song, an utterance that she would live to regret, as he quit writing for her after that, and her later chart successes were never the same. His songs were also responsible for the initial success, as well as the finest and weirdest offerings of the pre-disco era Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, for whom he wrote “Freaker’s Ball,” “Penicillin Penny,” “Sylvia’s Mother,” and many others.

Silverstein also recorded several albums of his own material, including Freaker’s Ball and The Great Conch Train Robbery , as well as spoken word renditions of his own poetry. His solo offerings tended to be way out of the mainstream, often focusing on drugs, sex, and other sometimes perverted or very offbeat subject matter. These albums met with little commercial success, but were often just as well-crafted as his as his multi-million selling books. He will be sorely missed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Bully

    Bully greets Orlando with apathy and anger toward one of its theme parks. Jen Cray smiles and thinks, “Man, this band would have fit in well in the nineties!”

  • Luther Dickinson
    Luther Dickinson

    Blues & Ballads: A Folksinger’s Songbook: Volumes I & II (New West Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Conway

    Big Talk EP (Self-Released). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Freakwater

    Scheherazade (Bloodshot Records). Review by James Mann.

  • The Haymarket Squares
    The Haymarket Squares

    Light It Up. Review by Carl F Gauze.

  • Ani DiFranco
    Ani DiFranco

    Years pass, and so do our legends, but one constant remains: there are always artists living and breathing that are worth your time and attention. Ani DiFranco is a major one, according to Jen Cray and a whole legion of fans.

  • Javier Escovedo
    Javier Escovedo

    Kicked Out Of Eden (Saustex Media). Review by James Mann.

  • Eszter Balint
    Eszter Balint

    Airless Midnight (Red Herring). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Arthur Lee and Love
    Arthur Lee and Love

    Real to Reel (High Moon Records). Review by Al Pergande.

  • The Rentiers
    The Rentiers

    Here is a List of Things That Exist EP / Black Metal Yoga 7″ (Square of Opposition Records/Death to False Hope Records). Review by Jen Cray.

From the Archives